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Military

Officials release F-16 accident report

AFPN

12/26/2002

12/26/02 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFPN) -- Air Force investigators determined there was not sufficient evidence to form an opinion as to the cause of the F-16C Fighting Falcon crash Sept. 9 during a night-training mission near Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.

The aircraft was destroyed upon impact in a remote section of a cattle ranch about 60 miles west of the base. The pilot, Capt. Benton Zettel, did not attempt to eject and was killed in the accident. The pilot and aircraft were assigned to Cannon's 522nd Fighter Squadron.

According to an Air Combat Command accident investigation board report released Dec. 24, investigators were unable to determine a clear and convincing cause of the accident. The board determined there was no indication of any aircraft malfunction.

The board was able to determine that it was likely that the pilot became distracted and disoriented as he executed a descending turn. As he fought to regain his situational awareness, he allowed the aircraft to enter a very steep dive. Investigators found substantial evidence that the pilot regained his situational awareness and attempted to recover the aircraft, but initiated the recovery at too low an altitude.



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